In the night the Dawn Princess faced a strong head wind, thunder, lightening and rain slowing our arrival time to Istanbul. A unique city situated on the edge of two continents with part of the city in Europe and part in Asia. Again our off shore excursion is re-arranged. There are six cruise ships in today creating absolute havoc with the traffic in the city centre. Horns were blaring continuously and at prayer time all you could hear was chanting through loudspeakers. Our coach tour was abandoned in favour of walking - rather tricky as it was raining and you had to walk close beside moving cars, buses, motorbikes. Having little sleep last night didn't help the situation.
Visited St Sophia Mosque, boasting a massive dome and an interior decorated with marble, precious stones and pillars from Ephesus. Attire for visiting the Mosque was covered shoulders and knees (headscarves not necessary) and shoes removed.(Dawn Princess provided us with a bag to put them in).
Next stop was at a carpet factory where we endured a demonstration while sampling a hot apple juice and a stick of sesame seed bread. (Carpet demos are always on the agenda when visiting Turkey but at least we were able to use the toilets).
A quick look around the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world boasting 4,000 shops, has its own school, Mosque, post office, banks and police station. The Bazaar was filled to the brim with bright gold and silver jewellery, scarves, pottery, trinkets.
On to the city's most recognised landmark, The Blue Mosque, featuring a multitude of small domes and semi-domes as well as six minarets. The interior is adorned with more than 20,000 blue Iznik tiles with a shimmering blue cast and 216 stained glass windows.
A country where Muslims pray five times a day. I counted nine Mosques around the area where we were docked. Can't say I enjoyed our visit to Istanbul - dark unkempt buildings, too many people, too much crazy traffic, too noisy and too many facing Mecca.